How to Know When Your Elderly Parents Need Help

At what age do parents need help?

Your senior parents may start to need help as early as sixty or as late as eighty. Every senior declines at a different rate depending on many factors such as lifestyle, health, diet, etc. If a parent receives a diagnosis of dementia or other long-term illness, they may require help earlier. On the other hand, some seniors are able to maintain their lifestyles well into their nineties. Start watching for signs around their sixtieth birthday.  

How do you determine the level of care for the elderly?

Each senior needs different levels of care depending on their factors. For the most part, seniors fall into three levels of care. Stage one focuses on seniors who only need help with chores or running errands. They are still capable of taking care of the physical care, bills, and other daily care. However, they may require reminders as their memory declines. 

Next is mid level care. In some cases, the older patient may be able to behave autonomously but need more help to maintain their lifestyle. An older person may be able to feed themselves yet forget to take their meds or shower. Level three care is for seniors with cognitive impairments or unique needs that make daily duties challenging. At this point, it may be time to consider assisted living. 

Also Read: Elderly Parents Need 24 Hour Care & Can My Elderly Parent Live Alone?

18 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help:

A parent who is elderly may need assistance right away if they are living in the same pajamas or in filthy conditions. But, of course, nobody knows your parents or loved ones as well as you do; what may be odd for them may be commonplace in someone else’s parents’ house. Nevertheless, it is useful to be aware of typical red flags that may point to cause for concern. 

1. Extreme mood swings or changes in mood

Losing control over their life may cause seniors to become moody. They may not be ready to admit they need care and become depressed. In addition, isolation often sets in, which further increases the changes in mood. 

2. Wearing the same tattered or disheveled clothing

As energy levels drop and depression or isolation kicks in, your parents may give up dressing up to their past standard. They may also find laundry care too energy-consuming, including washing, drying, folding, and putting clothes away. Additionally, they may become attached to comfortable clothing and not want to go shopping, so they will continue to wear.

3. Confusion or uncertainty when performing familiar or daily tasks

Many seniors experience worsening memory or dementia with age which leads to confusion. They may lose their train of thought while performing a task or forget where they are, what they are doing, or where they are going. While anyone can experience this, it’s more pronounced with seniors and requires care. 

4. Poor personal hygiene

With lower energy levels, seniors are less likely to take care of their personal hygiene. You may notice they are not showering as often, brushing their teeth, or putting in their dentures; they may not be wiping themselves properly when they use the bathroom, which can all lead to foul smells. 

Your parents might be afraid to use the shower but are too modest or proud to confess if their bathroom shower requires them to step into and out of the tub. Or it can be difficult for them to step over the tub wall if their legs and joints are stiff. As new personal challenges arise, their appearance may further diminish.

Also Read: How to Get Elderly Parents to Bathe

5. Having little energy and feeling depressed

With age, seniors’ bodies start to fail, leading to less energy as their reserves are used more quickly for simple tasks and functions. A lack of energy often leads to depression as they tire so quickly and cannot perform normal tasks with ease or as they lose control over their life. 

6. Broken or damaged appliances and fixtures

As the elderly age, so do their priorities as everything becomes more difficult. When they only have enough energy to care for their immediate needs, house maintenance falls off quickly. They may have dead lightbulbs, a broken stove, or a fire alarm that keeps beeping. 

7. Keeping expired groceries

Older individuals, especially those living on social security, may be unwilling to throw out old or expired food. The idea of cleaning out the fridge may overwhelm them to the point they just learn to work around the expired food. 

8. Poor medication management

With memory issues and reduced vigor, older adults may forget to take or refuse to use what little stamina they take medications inconsistently. Furthermore, they may put off refilling medications as going to the pharmacy may be daunting. 

9. Forgetfulness, changes in memory, and judgment

We all occasionally lose track of where we put our keys. However, if your parent looks more forgetful or perplexed than usual, they may have a more serious cognitive condition. Your elderly parent requires assistance if they have difficulties remembering things like when they were supposed to take their medication or when they were supposed to meet you for lunch.

10. Poor house or yard maintenance

An untidy, messy, or dirty home is one of the first indications that an aging relative needs assistance. They might not have the energy or physical capacity to maneuver a vacuum cleaner and reach up to dust shelves. The issue might be made worse by poor eyesight because an elderly person may not be able to see cobwebs, dust, or dirt that has accumulated in their home. 

All of this could lead to unhealthy environments and attract bugs. A cluttered house can also lead to tripping hazards for your parent and cause them to fall more often too. Further, they may neglect yard work which also leads to hazards, and they may not want to see the mess and stay inside.

11. Missing important appointments

Missed healthcare appointments are a major sign of confusion in the elderly. This is particularly true if they arrive on the incorrect day or at the incorrect hour. Alternatively, they might purposefully skip their doctor’s appointments out of concern for what the doctor would say. 

Knowing your parent’s appointment schedule can help you spot when doctor visits are skipped, whether it is out of confusion or avoidance, and provide you the chance to check in with your parent later.

12. No longer interested in hobbies or activities they once loved

While there are many physical indications that your elderly parent needs assistance, there are also many mental and emotional changes to look out for. The loss of interest in the activities they once found enjoyable is one of the most obvious indications. Your parents may also require your help if they begin to spend more time at home, avoid social gatherings with friends and family, or cease participating in previously anticipated community events.

13. Bounced checks, late notices

Your mother or father may forget or simply refuse to be in charge of paying bills. Older adults are not as comfortable with technology and may prefer to pay bills by mail, over the phone, or in person, which takes more effort than online. As a result, they may bounce checks and start receiving late notices or may even have services shut off. Moreover, your parents may simply stop checking the mail due to a lack of interest or energy and not know their bills are overdue. 

14. Trouble getting up from a seated position

Our bodies tend not to work as well as we age, especially if we lead a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, you may see your parents struggling to get out of their chair or even their bed and may need support to help get up, which is a clear sign they need help.

Also Read: What to Do When Elderly Parent Can’t Walk

15. Weight loss or poor dieting

When seniors find grocery shopping or driving tiresome, they may start to eat less food. With less caloric intake, they will start to lose weight which can further impact their health. Purchasing and cooking food may also take too much energy, so they eat smaller unhealthy snacks or foods that do not require as much preparation.  

Also Read: What to Do When Elderly Parent Stops Eating

16. Bruising or frequent injuries

Your parent may have strange bruises, wounds, or scrapes. This can indicate that they are having issues with their physical capabilities and balance. Keep an eye on your parent’s movements and see if they seem shaky. Over 50% of injury-related hospitalizations in patients over 65 are brought on by falls. Serious injuries can occur from a simple fall, including hip fractures, severe brain injuries, or broken arms.

17. Unexplained dents or damages on their car

For older individuals, hanging up the automobile keys is a difficult choice. How are they going to attend the doctor, buy their groceries, or see their grandchildren? It is a tough pill to take, but the alternative is dangerous and perhaps fatal: harming themselves or someone else while driving.

The ability to drive safely is crucial for preserving freedom, and seniors often fear driving at night. Your parent and other drivers on the road are both in danger if your parent drives recklessly. Additionally, they may drive much slower and not be as prepared for surprises or bad or inconsiderate drivers on the road.

18. Sleeping Habit Changes 

Does your elderly parent struggle with sleep issues, or do they wake up later than usual each morning? Sleep patterns that significantly alter could be a symptom of deteriorating health. As they become older, their sleep habits usually alter. Most people discover that getting older makes it harder for them to fall asleep. They awaken earlier in the morning and more frequently during the night.

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